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Stevens Point to borrow $1.7-million to finish mall project


STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU) -  Stevens Point leaders moved ahead with borrowing 1.7 million dollars to finish phase two of the Centerpoint Mall redevelopment project. That money will go towards remediation of soil contamination north of the Mid-State Technical College project that occupies the old Penney’s wing.

Mayor Andrew Halverson says the city will build a parking lot where the center of the mall once was between the former Dunham’s building and the back of the Main Street businesses.

He says the city knew they would be responsible for remediation, since the mall was built on contaminated soil. “There is remediation that needs to get done. There’s vapor extraction that we have to incorporate, from a timely perspective, into Mid-State Technical College’s bids which they’re releasing now, and we were contractually obligated to do that.”

The Mayor says the total project might cost less than the 1.7 million. “This is on the high end. This allows for the worst case scenario of environmental remediation. Odds are it will be less. We will also take the proceeds from a Dunham’s sale to offset the principal of this borrowing, as well as any other outside grant dollars that we’re able to receive as a community to help with the environmental concerns.”

There was plenty of council discussion about building the parking lot now or waiting until later. Halverson is pleased the council voted to get this done now. “Parking is very finite in our downtown. We know that we’re going to have to inject parking one way or the other. Why don’t we position ourselves for the best possible success, which is get it in the short term, get Dunham’s spun off as fast as we can. It’s probably increased in value because it’s going to have parking that’s going to support it.”

He says having the parking lot built at this time will make the former Dunham’s site more attractive to potential developers, and it will save money since heavy equipment is coming in to repave part of the city’s parking lot by Shopko and moving that equipment more than once costs money.

Although not on the agenda, the Edgewater Manor Apartments potential sale was brought up, since some have proposed selling it to a developer and placing it in the downtown tax incremental financing district. There’s mixed views among the aldermen about selling the property. The city is waiting for sealed bids from potential buyers, but the Community Development Authority retains the right to refuse all bids.  Several community members spoke in favor of keeping the building and continuing to operate it as senior housing.